This weekend I took my son to our local zoo. It’s great; not too big, not too small… it’s the perfect size for everyone within 200 yards hear me scream almost profanities at my 21-month old.
Oh no, I only wish I were exaggerating.
Tucker, my son, has entered into the toddler “it’s freaking HILARIOUS to run away from mommy and hide even though I can hear her screaming for me!” stage. Yeah… super awesome, LOVE IT.
I’m torn in a world where I love him to run, run, fast as he can so we can burn that meth or crack or whatever off that he secretly took when I wasn’t looking, so he’ll have a nice long nap when we get home and I can
scour the internet for sightings of my BFF Neil Patrick Harris work on my blog or something. But in this “fast as you can” state, there’s that second “you can’t catch me” gingerbread man caveat. I thought initially, “oh maybe if he can’t see me he’ll get scared and not run away anymore if he realizes I’m not right behind him” so I’ll just let him get *slightly* far away (but not so far that I can’t viciously rip the arms off any would-be Infertile clearly aiming to steal my kid. I’m on to you, crazy Infertiles!).
The following is what I’m pretty sure was the exact thought process that happened in my kid’s head as he ran far, far away from me, breeze through his hair, random strangers gawking:
“WHEEEEEE!!!!!! WHEEEEE!!!! Where’s my mom? Hmmm… must be gone forever! I’m free!! FREEDOM!!! I’ll probably be fine. Spend a night or two crashing on some buddies couches. I can totally get a job modeling or acting. Move out to LA in a few weeks. Heck, I’ll probably have an agent within a few weeks! Now, if I can just get to that open road with LOTS of traffic so I can hitch a ride…”
While I have no doubt he has a face for the movies, I don’t think he’s going to get very far with that poopie diaper. I tried to explain this to him as I ran, screaming “TUCKER!!! TUCKER!!! STOP!!! WAIT!!! You’re going to get a timeout in the stroller!!” to which he thought “not if you can’t catch me, lady!”
Let’s have a flashback moment here. My friend Hanna, years ago, warned me to never name my kid Tucker. In a period of musing over “T” names I liked, Tucker was a moniker I kept coming back to. Hanna advised that she had a co-worker who worked at home, and when she had to call him she would often hear him yell at his dog, Tucker. However, while shouting “TUCKER! STOP EATING YOUR OWN BARF!” or “TUCKER! GET OFF MY LEG!” it would sound much too similar to that OTHER word, one letter off and sounding like a Quentin Tarantino movie.
I blew this off at the time, and didn’t think of it.
That is, I didn’t think of it UNTIL I ran screaming it (repeatedly) through a park full of young, impressionable youth and their likely litigious parents. I tried to carefully pronounce the “T”… which may have made it worse? “TTTTTT-ucker!!!”
At some point I settled on “hey you there, Usain Bolt with half of my DNA!” (Olympics reference, for the win!)
Anywhoodle… This kid is finally wearing down. He’s walking alongside me as we pass the considerable crowd waiting in line for the giraffe-feeding. He’s doing his flapping-arm, hop-stumble-zig-zag toddler walk, which looks quite similar to drunk-homeless-man-stumble-bird-impersonation walk. The crowd is laughing, and he’s eating it up (not even two and already appreciates an audience… I fear this will not bode well in the years to come). I mumble a joke (a joke! don’t call CPS!), “No more Bloody Mary’s for you at breakfast, young man!” and I get a few chuckles (apparently I appreciate an audience too?).
A random man waiting in line says “I think you gave him some Red Bull for breakfast… that kid is FAST!” I laugh in response; shrug my shoulders. He goes on, “I think every person in the zoo knows his name… it’s TUCKER, right?” with a careful emphasis on the “T”.
I grimace, consider saying ‘no that was some other frazzled, exhausted parent’s child’… but the gig is up. No, random giraffe-feeding man… you’re correct. I’m THAT parent.